This year, Mason Intermediate fourth grade teacher Christine Work chose a new book as her read-aloud – Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, a former math teacher from Connecticut. The book was a huge hit with her students – who devoured the book and its characters; fifth graders and their teacher who are facing issues that many of the MI students related with.
“Because of the passion they had for the book and the attachment they had to the characters in it, I decided to contact the author to see about making a personal visit,” explained Work.
Buyea was booked for the year, but was available to skype with the students on October 8. The fourth graders loved asking Buyea questions about his writing process, his ideas for stories, and about the characters.
“Keep your writing switches on. Ideas come with you least expect. I take my writer’s notebook everywhere!” shared Buyea who told students that he didn’t particularly like reading and writing when he was in school, but was inspired to begin writing when he read his students’ stories. “While teaching elementary school I soon realized that in order to teach reading and writing, I needed to be a reader and writer first. I began reading all sorts of wonderful books. Then I began writing.”
The book also connected with the class’s character unit.
“This came at a perfect time, as they are all writing realistic fiction stories in Writer's Workshop so his advice went a long way!” said Work.
Columbia University’s Reading Workshop is a staple in Mason City Schools elementary students’ routine. In Reading Workshop, students read self-selected books independently at their “just right level” and while students are reading their books, the teacher confers with individuals, conducts guided reading groups or strategy lessons, and facilitates book clubs. Another important support in Reader’s Workshop is the “read-aloud.” Research confirms the importance and value of reading aloud to students of all ages.